Good news! Plot Whispering guru Martha Alderson is visiting today as she releases The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing into the world.
I know that finding inspiration and getting our writing mind running can be a struggle at times, and so having a book that offer s prompts and wisdom on how to connect with our creative inner selves is a great tool for our writer’s chest.
The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts gives you the inspiration and motivation you need to finish every one of your writing projects. Written by celebrated writing teacher and author Martha Alderson, this book guides you through each stage of the writing process, from constructing compelling characters to establishing an unforgettable ending.
Here’s some great answers to an area that trouble’s many: writer’s block. If you’ve had it before, you know how terrible it is, and how hard it can be to climb out of it. Please read on!
Angela: What dangers are responsible for writer’s block?
Martha: I address writer’s block on the first page of my new book, The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
“But you’re stuck. You can’t seem to get going. And what seemed so easy and so urgent now appears as a huge obstacle sitting in front of you, blocking your path to fulfillment.”
Writers beware of the three major dangers responsible for writer’s block.
3) Lack of Knowledge about How to Write a Story with a Plot
Angela: How does one pull oneself free of writer’s block?
Martha: I have always been fascinated by energy, which is why the Universal Story so delights me. I love the idea of an energetic path that cycles through the beginning and the end of a story, and everything else in life, too. Sometimes the energy builds and sometimes it fades, like the waves near my house. I appreciate that you can’t force a story to come any more than you can force a wave to break. However, there are three magic elixirs, one each to cure the three major dangers for writer’s block. Practice them liberally to ensure the path of creativity stays clear and wide open.
1) Replace Disorganization with Discipline
I cringe even writing the word discipline, like I’m writing a bad or even evil word. Yet for writers with jumbled ideas, cluttered workspaces, stacks of stories started and stopped at varying degrees of completion, writing in moments of sublime inspiration followed by weeks and months of writer’s block isn’t working.
Discipline once referred to an avid pursuit. At some point in history, discipline became linked to punishment and quickly fell out of favor, especially with creative and more permissive people. An everyday discipline is not nearly as romantic as being struck by inspiration. Yet every successful writer I know writes daily.
The most successful writers write full-time everyday. Discipline demands self-control. Self-control requires emotional maturity. How does one achieve emotional maturity, you ask? Same way as your protagonist achieves her full character emotional development, through trial and error and trauma and plunging into the dark night of the soul. The protagonist’s emotional development takes place over time and culminates at the end of the story in a lasting transformation. The character’s emotional development can be plotted from the beginning to the end of the story.
Your emotional maturity develops from writing a story with a plot from beginning to end and culminates at the end of the story. This means you write every day. Even when you don’t want to, even when you don’t know what to write and when there are so many more important things to do than write, you sit down, wait and write what comes. Rather than punishment, discipline grants you access to a wondrous world.
At first, establishing a daily writing discipline takes persistence and will-power. You try and fail and pick yourself up and try again. The more consistently you follow-through with the intentions and promises you make to yourself, soon your writing discipline becomes automatic, a habit, a routine. Rather than controlled by whim or strong emotion or wait for inspiration to strike, a disciplined writer writes.
Consistency creates habits and routines. Every time you write repeatedly with strong purpose, intention, and emphasis, the habit or routine enters the realm of a ritual. Finishing happens when you write consistently.
Today I write.
When you’re writing a first draft, committed not to show anyone until you’ve written all the way through to the end and started rewriting, use your critique group instead as a place to publicly state your writing intentions. Having your intentions witnessed increases your likelihood of discipline and success.
2) Replace Uncertainty with Confidence
To write takes confidence and energy. Something haunts you—a line of dialogue, a character; an event whispers to you like an invitation to sit down and write. Imagine for a moment that perhaps something in the invisible world wishes to manifest in the visible world. You—yes, you—have been chosen to make that dream a reality. You can always say no. However, once you say yes, the energy and commitment you bring to that task is sure to rise and fall as you follow the path on which your story leads you.
In appreciation of how fragile most writers’ confidence, I added to the PWBook of Prompts daily affirmations reminding you of your goals. Each time you renew your commitment to yourself, you renew your energy for your story. The more committed and highly energized you are, the more successful you’ll be at writing everyday. Suddenly, the ritual of showing up for your dreams empowers you to seize that which you most want.
Learning new concepts and exploring new ideas in your writing can fill or deplete you of energy. Daily affirmations lift your vigor, refocus your beliefs in yourself, and keep you writing. The ritual of repeating an affirmation every day at the same time becomes the anchor that keeps you grounded when life and your story fall apart around you.
Affirmations provide inspiration and foster creativity as you follow the more concrete plot elements of writing your story from beginning to end. Every day you repeat an affirmation, you are symbolically focusing your thoughts on your goals. Daily repetition of an affirmation builds positive, upbeat energy.
3) Replace a Lack of Knowledge about How to Write a Story with a Plot by Studying Plot and Structure
The more you know about plot and structure, the more confident and disciplined you grow and the more easily your ideas fall into place.
As a plot consultant and teacher, I meet writers who talk about writing but don’t actually write. I meet others who write endlessly but never get anywhere. In every case, it means the writer doesn’t know what to write next. Writers who know what comes next in a story with a plot and have a plan and pre-plot, no matter how vague, are less apt to experience writer’s block than writers who don’t know what goes where in a story with a plot. The writing prompts in the PW Book of Prompts take care of that for you with daily plot prompts to prompt your imagination and expression toward the plot and structure considerations at the exact spot where you are in writing your story. Increase your appreciation and knowledge of plot and structure and move from blocked and frustrated to writing the story all the way to the end.
Thank you, Angela, for allowing me space to share my passion for plot with your friends and followers. I invite you all to join me virtually on March 6th to Track Your Plot at the Scene Level, a webinar hosted by the Writer’s Store.
Martha Alderson, aka the Plot Whisperer, is the author of the Plot Whisperer series of plot books for writers: The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing, The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories – a companion workbook to The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master. She has also written Blockbuster Plots Pure & Simple (Illusion Press) and several ebooks on plot.
As an international plot consultant for writers, Martha’s clients include best-selling authors, New York editors, and Hollywood movie directors. She teaches plot workshops to novelists, memoirists, and screenwriters privately, at plot retreats, RWA, SCBWI, CWC chapter meetings, at writers’ conferences and Writers Store where she takes writers beyond the words and into the very heart of a story.
As the founder of December, International Plot Writing Month, Martha manages the award-winning blog for writers, awarded by Writers Digest 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. Her vlog, How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay covers 27 steps to plotting your story from beginning to end.
Super helpful as always Martha–it is always great to have you on the blog. I have learned so much about writing from your books, blog and videos. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us!
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.